Categorized | National News

Gov’t to Crackdown on ‘Midnight Cowboys’

The Gaming Amendment Bill was passed in the Upper Chamber on Monday and according to Attorney General Senator Carl Bethel, the goal of the Gaming Board is to crackdown on illegal gaming operators, who he called ‘midnight cowboys’.

“There are some midnight cowboys out there who offer number placement using their telephones and placing these bets over the internet.  So it was deemed to be necessary for that and for other reasons for the Gaming Board to be given greater powers to regulate the gaming industry,” Bethel said. 

The Gaming Amendment Bill was also passed in the House of Assembly last week.

According to Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar, “It is the intention of the government to increase the rate of tax on gaming revenues from 11 percent across the board to 15 percent on the first $24 million of gaming revenues and then 17.5 per cent on all gaming revenues over $24 million.” 

During yesterday’s Senate debate, the attorney general also addressed licensing issues concerning a gaming house that took the government to court. 

“There is one gaming house that is unlicensed that sued the government and obtained an injunction and for one reason or another, the matter has been unable to progress largely because the principle owner of that gaming house had a serious illness, so that has held matters up,” Bethel explained.

Taking the lead for the opposition during the debate was Senator Fred Mitchell, who said he was pleased there’s now a resolution to the longstanding taxation dispute, one that has held up gaming revenue for the government.

“There needs to come a day when there is equality for all Bahamians with gambling, to gamble anywhere if you want to, that you can even gamble in the casinos.  I think that is a grave inequity which must be at some point corrected sooner rather than later. 

“There’s this concern that I’ve heard many times that the people in the gaming sector, Bahamian gaming sector, are making too much money.  Do you know how much money they are making? I’m trying to figure out why people are concerned about how much money they are making.  If they are engaged in a legitimate exercise, make as much money as you want to make.”

Mitchell also called for equity concerning the taxation of domestic and foreign winnings, as he believes both should be taxed.

“I argue for equity, which is that no taxation on winnings which is against those who go in these casinos at Baha Mar and Atlantis.  There is no taxation on their winnings.  So Bahamians get taxed for winning, but those who come and gamble in the casinos, no taxation,” Mitchell said.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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